Rombo Balabac: Candaraman Island via Mansalangan Sandbar and Patawan Islet
April 11, 2015 1 Comment
It was a loooong four-and-a-half hour — but fortunately, very scenic — trip from Puerto Prinsesa City (PPC) to the sleepy mining town of Rio Tuba, the jumpoff point to our Balabac exploration.
Rio Tuba is not what I expected: boisterous, busy, urbanized — an expectation bolstered by the thought that since it is a mining town, commerce must’ve been teeming. On the contrary, I found a quiet, slow-paced, rustic village very similar to the other towns I have visited outside PPC, like Narra, Quezon and San Vicente, with one very noticeable exception: wide, dusty roads — to accommodate huge mining trucks, perhaps.
From the port of Rio Tuba, it was another three-or-so hours of sea travel just to reach Punta Sibaring, our campsite for Day One.
Needless to say, we were so beat from the arduous voyage the day before that many of us were contemplating on just staying at the magnificent Punta Sibaring. Now that I think about it, it isn’t a bad idea if we opted to stay another day there. Oh well…. hindsight, they say, is 20/20.
By dawn’s early light of Day Two, I can already smell the inviting aroma of dried flying fish frying in Kap Andong’s pan. Handing me a cup of 3-in-1 coffee (spiked with my favorite poison… Sssshhhhh!) — I would’ve opted for freshly brewed Buscalan coffee if I had it my way — our Captain, dear Captain gave me a rundown of the other islands we NEEDed to explore — again, NEEDed. Kap Andong’s enthusiasm was indeed contagious!
So, after breakfast…. off we went.
Mansalangan sandbar is part of a 12km or so stretch of beautiful land mass that glimmers from a distance.
The tide was still high when we got there, so much of the sandbar was still underwater; but, this didn’t stop us from having the time of our life!
Sun-kissed and drenched, we boarded our boat to our next stop…
Our next stop on our way to Day Two campsite is Patawan Island… more like an islet. What is unique about this piece of real estate is that from afar, it looks cottony white; but up close, the sand was pink-ish, very similar to what you’ll find in Tikling Island off the coast of Matnog, Sorsogon.
… and the water’s crystal clear!
After a quick lunch and some snorkeling, we were on our way to the next pit stop…
Candaraman is a privately owned island and has its own airstrip. We were told that someday soon, small planes will again be taking off and landing from here.
Candaraman Island Sandbar (Starfish Alley)
The island comprising Balabac is full of sandbars. Here, just off the main island of Candaraman, we were fortunate to share the waters with a couple of marine turtles!
Most of the sandbars in Balabac are yet to be named, so I volunteered to christen this mesmerizing seascape: Starfish Alley… for a very obvious reason: the seabed is littered with starfish in all sizes and colors! I hope Kap Andong catches on to the name….